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"Punk rock is really starting to get big in Mexico, especially in Mexico City," says singer/guitarist Irving Lugo, who estimates that there are now over 100 punk bands in Tijuana. But, "Norteño is still the king of music in Tijuana."

Lugo's Tijuana-based three-piece punk band Debajo del Promedio has played TJ venues such as the Boa bar, El Foro (Jai Alai Palace), and the Hard Rock Café.

"Tijuana is considered a tough place for rock bands. In the hardcore scene, if a band sounds too happy, that can be a problem. People will throw bottles of soda at you, or they will call you names. Like, they will scream in your face 'fag.' We don't write too much about love....

"We've been trying for five years [to get a stateside show]," says Lugo. "We didn't know anybody in San Diego." Lugo credits his manager for arranging Debajo del Promedio's first U.S. gig at the House of Blues (March 1).

"Yes, he's been a good manager for Debajo," says Helu, vocalist for TJ power-pop/glam band Rodeo Drive. "He started helping us out too. We were going to work with him, but he wanted 20 percent for five years. That was too much."

Side note: Though Rodeo Drive's next gig (March 18) is at Soma, they won't be playing on this side of the border. "There is a Soma down here on Paseo de los Héroes," says Helu. "It holds about 1000. It's all ages, but you can drink if you're 18." Len Paul, owner of San Diego's Soma, says he's unaffiliated with the Tijuana venue.

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